A 12 months later, a memorial service for the COVID sufferer is to happen in San Jose

A year later, a memorial service for the COVID victim is to take place in San Jose

A San Jose family is finally making funeral arrangements for loved ones they lost to COVID almost a year ago. It was one of the first fatalities in Santa Clara County.

A San Jose family is finally making funeral arrangements for their loved one, whom they lost to COVID-19 almost a year ago. It was one of the first fatalities in Santa Clara County.

Arcelia Martinez, 65, was a FoodMaxx employee who left a newly born grandchild behind. The family waited a year for a service that their mother always wanted and deserved. She died on March 21, 2020.

“I’ll stay tuned,” said Gina Martinez, who lost her mother to COVID. “Yesterday was really hard. It was the 11 month anniversary of my mother’s death and I don’t know why, but it hit me really hard.”

Rather than planning Gina’s 50th birthday party, the family plans to hold the Arcelia memorial service at the Lima family morgues in San Jose. With her mother’s ashes in an urn, the pain is still very harsh.

“My heart worsens when I don’t have her here and she is with us,” said Martinez.

It was this time of the last year, this family, like so many others, has entered one of the darkest and hardest of times.

Arcelia was a popular cashier at FoodMaxx with underlying health issues. She had shown some symptoms. What doctors initially thought was pneumonia turned out to be COVID. She died in O’Connor Hospital.

“I did it three minutes before my mother died,” said Martinez. “It was really hard to see her through that glass window to see how the nurses were dressed.”

Arcelia Martinez was the eighth person to die of the 1,700 deaths in Santa Clara County and among half a million Americans who have died from coronavirus.

“I can’t believe there were so many people, there are a lot of people,” said Martinez.

A year later, there were no answers on how and when Arcelia got infected with the virus. Birthdays and holidays are rough. Tamales made this year without her mother.

“If she had gone to the doctor earlier, they could have helped her,” said Martinez.

The anniversary of Arcelia’s death comes when Santa Clara County grocery store workers can get the vaccine next Sunday. It’s a sign of hope as Martinez warns others not to mask themselves and not take a moment for granted.

“Be there for your parents because you never know when they’re going to leave,” Martinez said. “I didn’t know my mother was going to leave me.”

Arcelia Martinez’s Celebration of Life takes place on March 20th. She leaves behind a large family, four daughters and six grandchildren. Up to 100 people can visit the outdoor service after the restrictions are lifted.

Azenith Smith is a reporter at KTVU. Send an email to Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.

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